Literature, Ethics, and Richard Rorty’s Pragmatist Theory of Interpretation

Philosophia 36 (1):29-41 (2008)
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Abstract

This article considers the validity and strength of Richard Rorty’s pragmatist theory of interpretation in the light of two ethical issues related to literature and interpretation. Rorty’s theory is rejected on two grounds. First, it is argued that his unrestrained account of interpretation is incompatible with the distinctive moral concerns that have been seen to restrict the scope and nature of valid approaches to artworks. The second part of the paper claims that there is no indispensable relationship between supporting Rorty’s pragmatist theory of interpretation and the important place that is attached to literature in the liberal society outlined by him. A reading of Donald Davidson’s texts on literary language and interpretation implies that an intentionalist theory of interpretation can accommodate those features that Rorty values in literature as well.

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Kalle Puolakka
University of Helsinki

Citations of this work

Devil, Deceiver, Dupe: Constructing John Dewey From the Right.Kelley M. King - 2018 - Journal of Philosophy of Education 52 (2):330-344.

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References found in this work

Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity.Richard Rorty - 1989 - Cambridge University Press.
Art as Experience.John Dewey - 1934 - G. Allen & Unwin.
Consequences of Pragmatism: Essays 1972-1980.Richard Rorty - 1982 - University of Minnesota Press.
Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity.Richard Rorty - 1989 - The Personalist Forum 5 (2):149-152.

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